There are so many different reasons for networking. What’s yours? I challenge you to think out-of-the-box.
Are you networking to:
Get more business
Sell a product or service
Find a job
Find a date
Whatever your reason is, write it down – then go after it with a vengeance. Be clear about your goal. It will help you avoid unfocused networking and will save you a LOT of time.
Next, find the group that is best for you. One where you can meet people who will help you reach your goal. I know that going to the first meeting – the one where you don’t know anyone – can be quite intimidating. And if you’re anything like me, it can be extremely nerve wracking. You face a sea of strangers stretched out before you – and all you want to do is turn and run out the door. You’re uncomfortable and unnerved and uncertain.
If you have ever felt like this, here’s a little tip:
Think of networking a little differently. Know that networking is not talking to strangers but rather starting a conversation. That’s all you’re trying to do at this point – start a conversation. You are not looking to close the sale, land the job or get the check for your project. Although that would be nice, chances are it will take more than one meeting to reach that goal. So for now, you’re only objective is to talk to this person long enough and decide if you want to schedule a second meeting. Is this someone who can help you?
So, instead of seeing strangers, think of this networking event as an opportunity to meet potential clients or potential friends. Personally, I love using the word curious. It changes your mindset. Think: I’m curious who I’m going to meet today. I’m curious how they can help my business. I’m curious how I can help them. This one word will help you look at the opportunities that lay before you. It can make all the difference in the world.
Remember that the people at the networking event are the same as you. We all have insecurities; we all have doubts. But most of us want to help each other. If you are at the same event, chances are that you already have a lot in common.
So whether you’re at a corporate event or in a coffee shop, you never know who can help you. You never know who you can extend a helping hand to in return. So start that conversation. If you find this difficult, tune in next week and I’ll give you some tips and tricks on how to do exactly that. In the meantime, start with a smile and simply say “hi.”